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‘BEE’ careful in being BEE friendly

Recently, on a car trip from Calgary to visit friends in Hay River and Yellowknife my travelling companion and I made a lunch stop in High Level, Alberta. While waiting for my soup and sandwich I picked up the local coffee news, the Muskeg Buzz. I came across an article in its Heard Around the World section titled, “Cheerios Will Send 500 Wildflower Seeds for Free to Save Bees." This piece encouraged readers to sign up for free wildflower seeds to plant to help save the honey bee. Maybe you have seen the TV commercial on the same topic. Currently, General Mills, maker of Honey Nut Cheerios, is focussing audience attention on the plight of honeybees through their corporate initiative, ‘Bring back the bees’. Their campaign, ‘Bring back the bees’ highlights the vital role bees and other pollinators play in food security, the economy and how bees and other pollinators face decline.

“Pollinators are critical to our ecosystems. Insect pollinators, both wild (e.g., many species of bees and moths) and domestic (honeybees), are in serious decline due to the combination of habitat loss, disease, pesticide exposure and climate change. These pollinators are responsible for an estimated one out of three bites of food that people eat, which is worth billions of dollars to the North American economy. Pollinators ensure the reproductive success of plants and the survival of the wildlife that depend on those plants for food and shelter.”*

A significant part of General Mills’ campaign is partnering with the Canadian, P.E.I. seed company, Veseys to offer free packages of wildflower seeds for planting. Last year, the 100,000 seed packages Veseys expected to give away went in a matter of days. The seed company scrambled to get another 100,000 packages to General Mills. This year’s projection is that General Mills is going to be giving away over 100 million seeds to Canadians.**

At first glance, this initiative seemed like a super-duper, winning idea to me. The intent to highlight the plight of the honeybee is wonderful and taking steps to address its dwindling habitat is to be applauded. With a little research I discovered, however, the method chosen to accomplish their goals has been called into question by Paul Zammit of the Toronto Botanical Gardens.***

Zammit bases his concern on the fact that all plants should not be planted in all locations. The free package contains a mixture of seeds some of which are non-native and perhaps even considered invasive in the location where they are being sent. The horticulturalist is quick to add that he likes that the campaign is getting folks like us talking about pollinators such as bees and supports the campaign efforts to urge us to take the opportunity to facilitate pollinators in our own backyards, balconies and outdoor spaces. However, his over-riding message is to take the ‘bee careful’ route to wildflower planting. Paul Zammit recommends first checking with our local flower societies or flower supply stores to select native flowers best suited to our locale in creating wildflower habitats for the bees in our neighbourhoods.

View https://youtu.be/JgZ-DLesdAU for other ways to help pollinators in your community.

Adding to your bee trivia ... did you know?

  • Bees have terrific colour vision, that’s why they love showy flowers. They especially like blue, purple, violet, white & yellow.
  • There are over 20,000 species of bees around the world!
  • Bee species all have different tongue lengths that adapt to different flowers.
  • The honeybee’s wings stroke incredibly fast, about 200 beats per second thus making their distinctive buzzing sound.
  • A honeybee can fly for up to 9 kilometers and as fast as 25 kilometers an hour.
  • 1 in 3 bites of food we eat is made possible by bees and other pollinators who spread the pollen that crops need to grow. That includes many of our favourite foods like apples, almonds, coffee and of course, honey.

Nancy Wales, CSJ

*Ontario Nature
Seeds Given away in Cheerios promotion may be problematic, horticulturalist says – CBC NEWS posted March 26, 2017
Seeds Given away in Cheerios promotion may be problematic, horticulturalist says – CBC NEWS posted March 26, 2017



To sit in silence ...

Grief and sorrow fill our hearts once again as we see the sights and hear the sounds of the distraught. I reach once again for a poem by a Somali - British poet, Warsan Shire to sit in silence. 




Later that night

I held an atlas in my lap

ran my fingers across the whole world

and whispered where does it hurt?


It answered





Mabel St. Louis, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

Marie Curie, www.procon.org


Musings on living with cancer: is it really a battle?

As I perused the obituaries in the Citizen, I used to always be jarred when I read that someone had died after a heroic, or courageous or valiant battle with cancer.  How could someone fall back on war terms to highlight how a person was engaged with life right to the end? I remember thinking that if I were ever diagnosed with cancer, I would never let such vocabulary describe my dying.  Let my obituary writer be aware!

Well, on July 8th 2015, I was diagnosed with cancer, a stage 4 colorectal cancer with metastasis to my lymph nodes, my liver and my lungs.  This diagnosis, especially at so advanced a stage, came from left field.  How could my immune system have been overwhelmed so radically while I was going about my life full throttle? How could food intake limitations henceforth set boundaries on my most reliable hearty appetite and my total enjoyment of the most varied culinary menus? Treatment was immediately set in motion with great commitment on the part of my oncology team (surgeon, radiologist and chemotherapist) to guarantee me two years of quality of life before my demise.  I was left to hope that such were God’s designs for me as well.   

As I started my journey through the cancer care process, I began to hear war language directed towards the cancerous cells in my body. They were the invaders, and the strategy was to attack, blast, destroy, etc. How could I conceive of a battle field being set up within my own body, and with chemo as a weapon of choice at that?  Where did my own immune system, however compromised now, fit into this scheme of things? I decided right from the beginning that I would not battle cancer, not use war terms but rather would try to shift the perspective of cancer care vocabulary. I would strive, with God’s grace, to just live with cancer, and live with it well.

From the onset, I informed my oncologist that I would not be putting all my eggs in the chemo therapy basket as if my immune system had totally abdicated its natural responsibilities. Rather, I would seek the help of complementary therapies to boost it, give it a better chance to continue to perform its God-given function in my body, albeit an aging body. More help came from the tremendous flow of loving, prayer-filled energy released by my CSJ community, my family, former colleagues and friends. I never thought my life mattered to so many. I did have and continue to periodically have chemo treatments when the cancerous cells threaten to colonize new territories but, in my mind, these treatments focus primarily on helping my immune system hold its own, not on defeating cancerous cells.  

Cancer is not my enemy; it is simply now part of my life’s journey. It brings its own share of anguish and pain but it is also the bearer of gifts which, as I seek to unwrap them daily with God’s grace, help me remain totally engaged with life as it unfolds for me at this time.

Nicole Aubé CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

The role of the heart and mind is to cooperate with truth by opening to love. We need the mind to know the truth of the heart, and we need the heart to know the truth of the mind.

Spirituality and the Awakening Self by David G. Benner, PhD



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